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Foes face hairy times vs. Slaton

August 15, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Steve Slaton has a habit of giving performances that can make hair stand on end.

His slashing style and relentless push for yardage for the West Virginia University offense have been so electrifying, opposing defenders leave the field looking like Troll dolls.

Big games and bloated statistics are commonplace as Slaton enters his junior year with the Mountaineers, who have finished in the top 10 nationally in each of the tailback's first two seasons.

His game isn't news now ... his hair is.

Slaton entered a press conference wearing a headband which poofed his do much like the defenders he leaves in the dust.

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"Why did you change your hair?" a reporter asked.

"It's a new style," he said. "I think I'm going to cut it all off though. It's too high for the helmet."

"Aren't you going to go back to the cornrows?" was the next question.

"No cornrows," Slaton said. "With us practicing, they only last three days. It's not worth doing it if it only lasts three days."

One mystery solved. The dragnet - or in this case, hair net - ended.

That's partially because Slaton's impact on WVU's fortunes isn't as mysterious.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior ranks third all-time on the Mountaineers' career rushing list with 2,872 yards in just two seasons. He set WVU's record with 2,104 all-purpose yards and 1,733 rushing yards last season. He also ranks in the top five on the career rushing touchdowns and 100-yard game lists while posting 11 scoring runs of 30 yards or more.

And even with all the accolades, Slaton isn't about to get lost in any hair-brained schemes.

"I just want to get better and improve everyday," Slaton said. "I think that way at the start of every season. I don't want to end up having the same numbers that I had as a freshman or I had as a sophomore."

The Mountaineers were ranked sixth in the USA Today preseason poll. Once again, WVU is considered one of the most powerful teams in the country and has been placed in a prominent position for a run at the national title.

But standing at sixth gives Slaton a starting point for improvement.

"I just hope for us to be No. 1," Slaton said. "The only thing to do is improve. We don't want to get worse. We want to get better."

There are a few strands of drama out there to make life interesting for Slaton, though.

He is coming off offseason surgery on a wrist that bothered him late last season and made him prone to fumbles. Slaton also will be running behind a revamped offensive line.

"I've been taking contact since the first day in pads," he said. "The wrist is doing real well. The offensive line has given me some of the biggest holes I've seen since I've been here. I'm getting big holes again, they must be doing well."

And now that Slaton is an upperclassman, there is a little matter of being a leader for the Mountaineers.

"It's all about growing up," he said. "Then you take on a leadership role. That's the way it happened in high school."

Slaton assures all that would listen that it's nothing to lose any hair over.

"Don't think and worry about all the hype," he said. "We are just focusing on one game at a time. That's what we have done ever since I've been here."

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